No Lions in winter

John Browne
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Former Tri-Pen GM says lack of commitment the reason team is out of provincial league

In this Dec 4, 2011 file photo, St. John’s Maple Leafs’ forward Chris Mallard fires a shot at Tri-Pen Lions’ netminder Jordan Dray in provincial major midget hockey action at the Capital Hyundai Arena in St. John’s. After icing a team in four games at the start of this season, Tri-Pen folded and withdrew from the league. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The former Tri-Pen Lions hockey team general manager says a “lack of commitment from the players and parents” was the reason the team folded in late October after playing just four games in the provincial major midget .league.

“It’s frustrating,” said John Budden, who noted, “Initially, we had 20 players on the roster and 10 affiliate players.

“But in the end, we probably had about a dozen guys who were truly committed to play.”

The other problem was that Budden was having trouble getting the $3,000 registration fee from all of the players. Just before the team was forced to fold, there were still five players who had not paid the fee, he said.

Budden said in recent years most, if not all, of the registration was paid by sponsors or raised through fund-raisers.

“It shouldn’t have been a problem,” said Budden. “Other teams in the league, such as the teams from St. John’s, have to pay $2,000 or $4,000 more in registration fees.”

Budden said a decision was made to fold “before we were $20,000 or $30,000 in the hole.”

It was somewhat of a surprise that the Lions, who finished last in the five-team circuit last season and failed to ice a squad for the league’s final tournament in Clarenville, even bothered to enter a team at all this season.

Tri-Pen encompasses a large geographical area, stretching from the outskirts of St. John’s to Conception Bay North, the Placentia area, Burin Peninsula, Clarenville Whitbourne and Bonavista.

Budden said he believed his team was competitive this season despite the lack of ice time available for practice prior to the start of the season.

“This year, we tried to separate our home games and play in four different stadiums so the players could play within their association, but it still didn’t work,” he explained.

“We had a practice in Whitbourne before we made the final decision to quit and we had only seven players on the ice.”

The teams remaining in the provincial league are the Western Kings, St. John’s Privateers, St. John’s Maple Leafs and Central IcePak.

The players from the Tri-Pen region were recently given permission to play for Central if they desired. Budden said he doesn’t know how many Tri-Pen players decided to take advantage of that opportunity.

He said if Tri-Pen doesn’t have a team next year maybe the boundaries will be adjusted and players in the area will get a chance to play somewhere else.

But Budden said it will be difficult for Tri-Pen to get another franchise because he believes the league will bring in a requirement of a  $5,000 retainer fee for existing and new teams just to cut out what happened this year.

Teams looking to enter the league under the new franchise system have to set up a not-for-profit organization and submit a business plan.

Even if Tri-Pen gets another franchise off the ground, Budden said he won’t be a part of it.

“I’d love to see the team back, but it will have to be with a new franchise and I’m not interested,” he said.

“We’ve had the franchise for three years. Before the league had two teams in the metro St. John’s area, several players on the Tri-Pen team were  from the capital city.

“When they put two teams in St. John’s, Tri-Pen couldn’t access any of those players.

“We still have good calibre local hockey players, but the commitment doesn’t seem to be there.”

Organizations: Tri-Pen Lions, Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Clarenville, Placentia

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Recent comments

  • Jerk
    December 20, 2012 - 10:48

    Hey guys I am pretty sure mr.Abbott only cost his team 1 maybe 2 games last year with errors and he had 2 homeruns in the same year. If you ask me he is just hitting his prime.

  • Abby
    December 20, 2012 - 10:33

    And to the b'ys from 3 Cheers who are chiming in.....come on, only 2 errors all year and they were in the same game! #DP

  • Dick
    December 20, 2012 - 09:44

    There is no need to post comments like this attacking someone who is making a very valid point, all while you are hiding behind a screen name of BOB. Sure he throws a few balls down the 1st baseline but that has nothing to do with the article or the hockey related comment made.

  • Kris Abbott
    December 20, 2012 - 08:57

    Thanks for the encouragement Bob. I'll see you at tryouts in the spring! Try signing your real name instead of hiding behind your keyboard bud!

    • Bob
      December 20, 2012 - 11:02

      I'll strike you out!

    • Bob
      December 20, 2012 - 11:06

      I'll strike you out!

  • Bob
    December 20, 2012 - 08:26

    Mr. Abbott, you should stick to bobbling balls, committing errors and striking out on the ball field.

    • A-ROD
      December 20, 2012 - 09:02

      Bob, it's a tough throw from 3B to first, however, young Abbott makes up for it with his speed on the paths!

    • Kris Abbott
      December 20, 2012 - 11:51

      Bob - Challenge accepted. Jerk - Pretty sure I know who you are, haha. A-Rod - I'm gonna miss the housewarming in January. Tell Marsha I said hi.

  • Paul Crane
    December 20, 2012 - 07:13

    Maybe if the kids didnt get blown away by the St. johns teams they would be more interested

    • Kris Abbott - St. John's Privateers
      December 20, 2012 - 07:49

      Hi Paul, Please take a look at this year's standings ( that will show you that the NLMMHL and Hockey NL have worked hard to ensure parity in the league. Everyone has beaten everyone and the standings three quarters of the way through the regular season are still very much up in the air. Comments like the one you have made here are representative of the kind of attitude that continues to hold back the growth and development of hockey in our province. Tri Pen's situation is quite precarious as they are drawing from a massive geographical area when smaller regions are able to get together for practices and development more often and with easier travel. Mr Budden and his group should be commended for their commitment to making this team work. John stayed involved even after his son had moved on from the team because he was committed to seeing it work. The region has some serious talent as can be seen with their recent successes at the Pee Wee AAA and Bantam AAA levels and there is no reason that they couldn't be competitive at the major midget level as well, in terms of talent. The Major Midget League is the best hockey in our province outside of the NLSHL and more hockey fans need to know this. Kris Abbott - St. John's Privateers